WELCOME to our weekly round-up of British sport where we’ll be reflecting on the big talking points and looking forward to the next big clashes.
By BARBARA DOUGLAS
FINALLY his critics feel comfortable enough to snigger Jurgen Flopp out loud.
It may be as funny as Donny Small Hands being President of the Unite States of America but it hurts those of a Liverpool persuasion because it currently rings true.
His heavy metal brand of football has finally burst – if not the eardrums – but the lungs and muscles of his clearly knackered players.
The bubble of optimism has gone bang as has all confidence and hope of a trophy-winning season as Dry January has become Cry January at Anfield.
The high energy, high pressing, high tempo Klopp demands, coupled with the absences of key players and injuries to others that could have given regular first-teamers breathers has finally come home to roost in a terrible January for the club.
Add in seven games in 24 days and a clear blueprint on how to frustrate his side and it is no surprise the Reds have dropped 10 points off leaders Chelsea and lost the League Cup semi-final against Southampton despite being odds on favourites.
But all teams have blips and this is clearly Liverpool’s, yet they are still in the top four and FA Cup.
Even runaway league leaders Chelsea had one – a September when they did not win a game – when their fans were feeling like the Kop’s do now.
United had a bang average October and November when they drew more than Tony Hart on acid, while across town Pep Guardiola is stumbling from one blip to another.
In London it is all going swimmingly for Spurs and Arsenal at the moment – and those are the important words ‘at the moment’.
Nothing is won in January – there is still a long way to go.
ANDY MURRAY missed a great chance to feel reborn in Melbourne.
The top seed was flying the flag Down Under looking for his first Australian Open title – and after reigning champion Novak Djokovic’s shock second-round exit he never had a better chance.
Murray, 29, had breezed past Andrey Rublev although did turn his ankle, he then made short work of American Sam Querrey before blowing it big time with a frustrating defeat to world No 50 Mischa Zverev
But love him or hate him – and I fall firmly in the first category – the guy is simply in the top two greatest tennis stars Great Britain has ever produced.
Fred Perry might be the original – and have a cool range of sports gear still going strong almost 22 years after his death – but Sir Muzza is shining like a knight in armour in arguably the greatest era of men’s tennis.
It’s hard to compare sportsmen past and present but I think Murray would have matched Perry’s 10 Majors against the likes of Jack Crawford, Gottfried von Cramm and Don Budge, while Perry would have found the likes of Roger Federer, Djokovic and Rafa Nadal equally as tough nuts to crack.
IT’S not often English football fans look enviously at the Scottish game.
But the increase in simulation by players has led to more voices calling for retrospective action for cheats – just like they have north of the border.
In the last few weeks alone Tottenham’s Dele Alli conned referee Jon Moss by blatantly diving to win a penalty against Swansea.
Then Hull’s Robert Snodgrass admitted after the game he had done exactly the same to dupe Mike Jones in their match against Crystal Palace.
Danny Rose embarrassed himself when West Brom’s Nacer Chadli’s trailing hand brushed his face. Despite the touch being as gentle as a lover’s caress the Spurs defender dramatically fell to the ground like he had been shot by a sniper in the stands.
Only one reason to do that, to try and get Chadli – a former White Hart Lane team-mate for God’s sake – sent off and cheat an advantage for his side.
Ander Herrera also produced an outrageous piece of s***-housery to try and get Roberto Firmino a red card at Old Trafford.
What made that even more galling was Herrera had pulled the Brazilian’s shirt to such a ridiculous and lengthy extent that when the frustrated Liverpool man shoved his chest in an attempt to get away he went down like a fat kid on a seesaw clutching his FACE!
Perhaps the Manchester United midfielder’s childhood hero was Rivaldo who produced the worst case of face-clutching shame for Brazil at the 2002 World Cup.
When Turkey’s Hakan Unsal kicked the ball in frustration at his time-wasting at a corner it hit his leg – his bloody LEG – but Rivaldo went down, hands over his face, in one of the biggest dick moves ever captured on camera.
Paul Pogba has also viciously wrestled both Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson to the ground by their throats this season without any comeback. Now I know the Man United rivalry is fierce but come on #pogbad wee Joe plays for Stoke now!